Friday fever dream (or, four of the seven things you’re not supposed to talk about)

I listened to a This American Life podcast recently titled “The Seven Things You’re Not Supposed to Talk About.” In it, a mother of one of the producers details a list of topics she thinks are too boring for general conversation. It was an interesting show (aren’t they all?), so I recommend you listen if you haven’t already heard it.

The seven things are: your sleep, your health, your dreams, your period, your diet, money and “route talk.”

The reason I mention this list is because as I was writing, I realized that this post contains for of these topics. Not menstruation, if it makes you feel any better. But nevertheless, consider yourself warned.


We saw The Book of Mormon last night, which, let me tell you, is my new favorite show. It’s everything musical theater should be, including jaw-dropping bawdiness and envelope-destroying cultural satire. Anyway, on the way to the theater, I was starting to get a headache. By intermission, it was ravaging my eye sockets. We got home, I took two Advil and went to bed. But when I woke up, it was still there, crushing my forehead and making it hard for me to move my eyeballs. In addition, I had broken out in a cold sweat and felt vaguely nauseous.

Pat has a contingency plan every time he’s on the brink of illness. For a cold, he pounds orange juice. If there’s a remote possibility of a stomach bug, he avoids anything other than bland foods, thinking it will reduce his chances of seeing them again.


But not me. I’m a gambler. Or a glutton, it’s hard to know which deadly sin applies more here. Anyway, you know the saying “Starve a fever, feed a cold?” Mine would be something like “If you think you might be getting sick, eat everything in sight in case you’re not able to taste it and/or digest it in the very near future.”  I try to avoid illness by pretending it’s not happening. Under that pretense, I made quesadillas for lunch, a batch of granola and these peanut butter-curry rice treats for snacks and veggie burgers and fries for dinner.

As of this writing, my stomach is still holding strong (knock on wood), though my head is no better.

Despite my overall achiness, I pulled on sweats and we went outside. We were expecting a storm around lunchtime, and I wanted the kids to burn off some energy before we were trapped inside. I stood in the driveway with a cup of coffee while Noah raked and Rory pushed a wheelbarrow in circles around the yard.



Raindrops started to fall. We went in and had lunch. Finally it was time for Rory’s nap. I told Noah that I wasn’t feeling well and needed to lie down. “You can do whatever you want,” I told him, “As long as you’re quiet.”

“Okay, Mom.”

“Thank you so much, Noah.” I got into bed and pulled up the blankets.

Three minutes later, a knock. “Mom, do you know where the wagon is with the blocks?”

“I think it’s downstairs. But if you can’t find it, you’re just going to have to wait, okay? I really need to sleep.”

“Okay. Like, 20 minutes?”

“Maybe a little more than 20.”

“30 minutes?”

“Yes, that would be great. Thank you, honey.”

Noah shut the door. I closed my eyes again. Did I tell you about my favorite new sound on my white noise app? “Airplane cabin.” It’s the soothing buzz of flying without kids minus the beverage cart banging into your toes.

Knock, knock.

“Mom, I found the wagon.”

“Great. Okay, please, I really need to sleep.”

A couple minutes later, another knock. “Mom, Alec is here. Can I go to his house?”

“Yes, yes, please! Have fun!”

Rory still sleeping and Noah out of the house, I sank into a feverish sleep. Over the soothing hum of “airplane cabin,” I could hear the toilet running in the bathroom. I could not bring myself to get up to fix it.


While I napped, I dreamed that I went to pick Noah up from school. His old teacher, now the preschool’s director, Gail – whom Noah adores –  was in his classroom.  I told a child to get his things, and noticed Gail looking at me strangely. At this point I realized that the child was not Noah, and that my vision was so blurry I couldn’t tell the difference.

“What’s your last name?” she asked me.

“Dillon,” I said.

“Like the president, George W.?” she asked me. It was like a sobriety test.

But I must have passed, because the next thing I knew, I was driving down the highway with Noah on my lap. Gail was in the passenger seat. After a while I realized what I was doing, and said, “Oh, I guess he needs to be in a carseat, huh?” Gail just looked at me.

I woke up feeling like a terrible mother.

Then Noah came home, and Rory woke up. We watched some Sesame Street and had our granola snack and went outside.

Alec joined us in the driveway. He was kicking a volleyball around, and eventually I started kicking it back to him. Rory and Noah continued with their “yard work” from the morning.

Noah appeared at the side of the driveway. “And the crowd goes wild!!!” He yelled dramatically. Alec laughed. Noah went back to yard work. We continued kicking the ball. I never played soccer in school – I was more of a volleyball and basketball person in my middle school sports heyday – but I bet it would have been fun.

“Noah!” Alec yelled. “Do ‘the crowd goes wild’ again!”

“I can’t.” Noah said, jabbing a stick into the mud. “The crowd all went home. They think this game is boring.”

Well, then.

A neighbor boy rode by on his bike. “What are you doing?” he yelled at our general vicinity.

“I’m playing soccer with Noah’s mom!” yelled Alec.

“I’m making a mudpie!” yelled Noah.

And then Rory sat in a mudpie. And for once, I do not mean this metaphorically. (Incidentally, I was surprised to learn that “bodily functions” are not on the list of seven things to not talk about. Maybe it’s a given.)


Alec’s mom came outside, and we talked for awhile. You want a story? She had to take her middle son to the doctor yesterday because of a mystery white substance in his ear canal. Turns out he had stuck styrofoam deep in there to see if he could get it to come out the other side. These are the moments parenting is made of. And definitely not on the list of seven things to not talk about.